The seven Rajiv Gandhi assassination convicts jailed in Tamil Nadu cannot be released, the Indian Government told the Supreme Court today, asserting that the case involves the assassination of a former Prime Minister, NDTV reported.
The CBI, which investigated the case, has opposed the release of the seven convicts, the court was told.
The seven convicts had been in jail for 27 years.
The convicts, Perarivalan, Murugan, Santhan, Nalini Sriharan, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran, are serving life terms. Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991 by a woman operative of the separatist Lankan Tamil outfit LTTE, who greeted him at a rally in Sriperumbudur town with a bomb strapped to her chest.
Another convict, Perarivalan, had requested that the case be reopened and his conviction be cancelled. The Supreme Court rejected it in March.
AG Perarivalan was convicted for supplying two nine-volt batteries for the belt-bomb. He was 19 when he was arrested weeks after the assassination. He told a court that he had no idea what the batteries were for.
Perarivalan spent 14 years in solitary confinement after being sentenced to hang. His death sentence was changed to life term by the Supreme Court in 2014.
The assassination and the role of Tamil separatists has been an emotive subject in Tamil Nadu and key to the campaigns of the two main parties in the state, the ruling AIADMK and the opposition DMK. Many in Tamil Nadu believe that the convicts played minor roles in the assassination and were drawn into a plot they knew little about.
In 2014, then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa decided to release the convicts but the centre – the Congress-led government was in power – challenged her decision. The Supreme Court then said the state could not take such a decision without the centre’s sanction, as the case was investigated by the CBI. (Colombo Gazette)